While one state water entity voiced concern this week about a decline in the statewide water savings rate, a second kicked off a campaign to make conservation a way of life.
The State Water Resources Control Board reported on August 2 that statewide water savings for June was 21.5%, a decrease from the 28.1% logged for May.
The same day, the California Department of Water Resources intensified its Save Our Water summer campaign, “Water Conservation: It’s For Life.” The campaign thanks Californians for their conservation efforts and asks for their continued commitment to saving water.
An updated website at saveourwater.com includes tools and tips for saving water around the house, yard and neighborhood.
The cumulative savings rate from June 2015 to June 2016 is 24.2%, according to the state water board. The rate is slightly below the 25% water use reduction mandated in the Governor’s executive order in April 2015.
The cumulative savings is 1.75 million acre-feet (571.2 billion gallons), enough to supply 8.8 million people for a year.
In June 2016, the state water board updated its emergency water conservation rules to give urban water agencies the ability to set their own conservation standards based on a “stress test” of supply reliability. Water suppliers must show they have sufficient supplies to withstand three years of continuous drought or take additional measures that include mandatory conservation targets.
The board said its action is part of a wider effort to build on the short-term emergency water restrictions and set permanent conservation measures that improve long-term drought preparedness and eliminate the worst water-wasting practices.
In May 2016, the Governor issued an executive order calling for new permanent water use efficiency targets for each urban water supplier and for strengthening local water shortage contingency plans.
The 21.5% statewide water savings rate for June amounted to 143,130 acre-feet (46.6 billion gallons). Besides being a decrease from May, the statewide water savings rate also was less than the 27.5% (60.6 billion gallons) in June 2015.
On average, residential use statewide was 104.9 gallons per capita per day (GPCD) in June 2016, an 18% increase from the 86.7 residential GPCD reported in May 2016, and also more than the 98.1 residential GPCD reported in June 2015.
The revised state emergency regulation is in effect through January 2017. The state water board said it is prepared to reimpose new mandatory water restrictions in early 2017 if needed.
In its news release, the state water board comments that summer provides the greatest opportunity for water savings and that the statewide restrictions remain in place, such as bans on: operating fountains without recirculating pumps, irrigating turf in street medians, hosing off sidewalks/driveways, washing cars without hoses equipped with a shut-off nozzle, and watering lawns in a way that causes runoff.
Prohibitions also remain against homeowner associations or local governments taking action against homeowners who reduce or stop watering laws. As directed by the Governor’s May 2016 executive order, the state water board will be making these prohibitions permanent.
Even with the winter rain and snow, precipitation for the state was below average this year. About 60% of the state remains in severe or extreme drought—that includes parts of Northern California and most of Central and Southern California.
Between April and July 2016, Sierra snowmelt was 73% of normal.